Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday imposed a series of restrictions on Grand Bahama, including the closure of the island’s international and domestic borders, following the confirmation of 31 new cases of COVID-19 in less than two weeks.
“If efforts to decrease the number of cases are unsuccessful, other restrictive measures may be recommended, including a lockdown beginning Friday, the 24th of July,” Minnis said.
In a national address, he said many of the recent cases on Grand Bahama have been traced to Bahamians returning to The Bahamas, noting that the spike “coincided with the reinstitution of international flights and passenger sea transport”.
Minnis said, “Because of the increase of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Grand Bahama, and after consultation with health officials, I wish to announce the following measures for Grand Bahama: a new curfew for Grand Bahama will be implemented from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, starting tomorrow, July 20.
“All public and private beaches and parks will be closed until further notice, effective Monday, July 20, 2020 at 5 a.m.
“International and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels to and from Grand Bahama, except for emergencies and to transport essential services and goods, effective midnight Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
“Ferry boat operations between East End, Grand Bahama and Crown Haven, Abaco, will not be allowed and this will take effect tomorrow, Monday, July 20, at 5 a.m.”
Minnis said health officials on Grand Bahama have recommended “stricter” enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing on the island “with fines for non-compliance”.
Indoor dining on Grand Bahama is prohibited as of today.
Outdoor dining, takeaway and curbside delivery will be permitted.
Bars remain closed. All fish fries — inclusive of, but not limited to, Eight Mile Rock, Smith’s Point, West End and Williams Town — will be closed effective today.
All congregant activities and gatherings, including religious services, weddings, funerals and sporting activities, are prohibited as of today.
This does not include students taking national examinations, according to the prime minister.
Minnis said health officials are closely monitoring the situation on the island.
“To enhance the capacity of health officials on the island in this regard, a seven-member team from the Ministry of Health arrived on Grand Bahama yesterday, Saturday, July 18,” he said.
“This team is assisting with identification, testing and mapping of contacts for characterization of the epidemiological situation following the significant increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on that island. The health team is made up of three physicians, one microbiologist and three nurses who will provide public health and clinical support to the Grand Bahama team.
“The team’s assistance will include public education sessions, data gathering exercises, case investigations, contact tracing as well as sample collection.”
Minnis pleaded with residents of Grand Bahama to co-operate with health measures.
“If we address the current increase in confirmed cases as quickly as possible, Grand Bahama can return to a greater sense of normalcy as soon as possible,” he said.
“Let us work together to get Grand Bahama back up and running as quickly as possible. I ask Grand Bahamians to work in a spirit of unity in the battle against COVID-19.”